civil disobedience

Oregonian Says Bill to Criminalize Protest is Dead

Attempt to criminalize tweets that solicit law-breaking fizzles at Oregon Legislature

occupy crowd.JPG
Flash mobs that engage in criminal activity are the target of a bill that would make it illegal to electronically summon two or more people to a designated place to do something that is against the law. Critics say the bill, which appears dead, is aimed at preventing demonstrations such as Occupy Portland.

SALEM -- It was dubbed the "flash mob" bill when it got a hearing Monday at the Oregon Legislature -- a proposal to make it a felony to summon people by Twitter or email to commit a crime at a designated place.

Now it's more like flash-in-the-pan.

"It's dead," said Sen. Floyd Prozanski, the Eugene Democrat who, because he holds the gavel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, gets to decide such things.

Yet 11 Republicans and one Democrat signed onto Senate Bill 1534, which would have created the crime of "aggravated solicitation." And we're not talking street corners here.

Sen. Doug Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls, said he asked for the bill because he heard from retailers about being victims of flash mobs that steal stuff. It wasn't meant to stifle free speech, he said, but to bring law enforcement up to date with the modern era of social media and instant communication.

"If someone wants to bring a whole bunch of people to the Capitol to demonstrate, no problem," he said. "But if they're solicited to come to the Capitol at 9 p.m. to firebomb the place, that's a problem."

Critics say it's an unusual -- and dangerous -- incursion into the freedom to protest, not to mention tweet.

"I would expect a law like this is Myanmar, Turkmenistan, North Korea or Zimbabwe," said Dan Meek, a Portland attorney who testified Monday. Not, he said, at the Oregon Legislature.

Progressive Party Testifies Against Oregon Bill to Criminalize Protest

FOR RELEASE:  February 6, 2012

Dan Meek

Daniel Meek, an attorney representing the Oregon Progressive Party, today testified at the Oregon Legislature against a bill to criminalize using any form of "electronic communication" to organize or join in any protest constituting civil disobedience.

"This is the kind of law you might find in Myanmar or Turkmenistan or North Korea or Zimbabwe, but not in Oregon," said Meek.  Several persons associated with the Occupy movement also testified against the bill.

SB 1534, with 12 Senators co-sponsoring (only 16 votes are needed to pass the Senate), would make it a Class C felony for anyone to send an email (or a tweet or text or blog post) "with the intent of causing two or more other persons to engage in specific conduct constituting a crime" that itself is only a misdemeanor.  A Class C felony is punishable by a fine of up to $125,000 and a prison term of 5 years.  A misdemeanor, such as disorderly conduct or failing to disperse when ordered or making an unreasonable noise, is punishable by $2,500 fine and 6 months in jail.  So SB 1534 makes sending the email a far more serious crime than the misdemeanor being suggested in the message.   Read more ...

Syndicate content